Archive for April, 2012

Kuala Belait 2

April 30, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was a working day, and all in all it was a good day, but the work was frustrating.

One of the malls here is pretty gross and miserable to be inside. I took one picture today, here it is.

At the bottom of those buildings is a grocery store and a hotel. Behind the buildings is the ocean. After working, I took a walk from my hotel to an International Expo we passed on the way back to the hotel. It was in an air conditioned tent, and there were all sorts of stalls with strange things to buy like aloe vera lotion and a sweet vegetable peeler.

I’m not sure what was so International about it. For dinner I found a new Chinese restaurant near my hotel, and had homemade wok noodles with vegetables. Not bad!

This second picture I took yesterday on the street. This guy is cooking tuna (on the left) mackerel (on the right) and chicken. I said I thought tuna was much bigger than that and was informed that the tuna is not they kind they have in Japan, which is indeed much larger. I asked if they caught the fishes in the river and they laughed at the question and said of course not, they were frozen.

Have a nice week everybody!

Love, Annie

Kuala Belait 1

April 29, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m writing from the hotel in Kuala Belait (KB). The hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the room is decent, pretty large, and overlooks the river. The first picture is from the walk this morning in Bandar.

Here in KB, the bathroom has tiles and smell reminds me of the bathroom in my Bubbie’s house so that’s very nice.

This morning I woke up early (sleeping late has been impossible) and took a nice walk to find some breakfast. I had a nice meal at Caffe Vito and they were playing the white house correspondents dinner on CNN. I had tofu and vegetables and rice — delicious.

After more walking, I packed up and taxied over to KB. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes.

After settling at the hotel, I went for a walk. I explored most of the town, as much as possible in the heat. I was about to go back to the hotel but it was only 3:30 and that wasn’t late enough so I tried to do some more exploring. On this second go, I found an awesome smelling cake shop playing funky music (shown above) definitely my favorite shop so far. I got some mini cookies from there. They are okay tasting.

It’s a good thing I won’t be here too long because there isn’t really anything to do. Also, this city isn’t as glamourous as Bandar.

My first impression is that it’s significantly dumpier than the capital. For some reason, the pictures make it seem a lot more pristine than in person. The last picture is of the main street in KB centre area.

I found some swastikas spray painted on the cobblestone near some boats kind of where I’m standing for the picture with the boats in it.

I realize that the symbol is used in other cultures but still. After my walks I watched South Park in the hotel room. :).

Dinner was surprisingly good and cheap. The hotel has an Indian cafe across the street and for $7.50 I got a tasty and spicy mixed vegetables dish and garlic rice and an iced tea, way more food than I could eat in fact. I’ll definitely be back there to try some of the other things on the menu.

All in all it was a good day off and I’m excited to get to work tomorrow.

Love, Annie

Bandar April 28

April 28, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a pretty solid day in Bandar. I finished my work and went to the Royal Regalia Museum where you can learn all about the Sultan of Brunei and the past Sultans of Brunei.

This isn’t a picture of the museum, it’s of the mosque at night taken on my night walk this evening. It’s very beautiful. By the way it’s about 90 degrees in the evening even when the sun goes down.

I thought the coolest thing about the museum were all the gifts on display from different countries.I did not see a gift from the USA but there was a gift from Canada. The museum is in a big building and it’s freezing inside. You take off your shoes to go inside and lock your bag in a little locker.

It’s free admissions. There are no cameras or cell phones allowed. There’s a pathway that you take through the museum to see all of the things inside. It took me over an hour. By the end I was itching to find the exit. This second picture shows some crazy colored drinks at the market today. It must be a saturday thing.

That’s all for today. There was a huge bug in my hotel room that crawled over my foot. I smacked it with the scale in the bathroom even though I hate killing bugs and usually leave them alone but this one sent me in a panic by crawling on me.

Next stop Kuala Belait!

Love, Annie

Bandar Working (and fun) Days

April 27, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

The last two days have been pretty good! Here I am on a boat going around the Kampong Ayer water village where over 10,000 people live on the water!

It’s pretty cool. The driver’s dad lent me his poncho, which was very nice. (We both got in the boat at first before he got dropped off at his house, in the village.) I originally wanted to just cover my bag, but then it started raining much harder. The driver, Mohammed, took this pretty well composed picture of me with the big mosque in the background. He even showed me his house, which was awesome so I got a pretty involved tour of the water village. I thought it would smell because I imagine the water is also the sewage area, but it’s fine.

The water village has 10 schools, a fire station, a museum, a mosque of its own, restaurants, a trash pickup system, etc. Really, everything!

Yesterday there’s not much to report because I was working all day inside malls and supermarkets in an area of town called Gadong.The coolest thing about yesterday was that I saw baby corns not in a can or in a stir fry!

I had no idea what they looked like but this gives a better sense. The packages are labled “young corns.” and they are not very expensive as you can see.

When I got back in the evening, I made a secret cocktail, a vodka soda, and enjoyed it with some dried broad beans I got at one of the supermarkets. It was quite a cocktail hour.

This morning while I was waiting for a Taxi to come, I wandered into this store and found this absolutely giant incense stick (it’s standing up next to the box) that burns for half a day.

They use it for ceremonies. Apparently it’s very heavy they wouldn’t let me pick it up. I learned about all the different prayer ceremony things they were selling the store. One of the men in the store pressed me about what religion I am. I told him i’m Education religion, always learning. He asked well what is my mother? I’m not sure what they think about Jews here, and i’m a bad liar, so I left.

That’s all for now. The internet in the hotel is so good that I’m going to watch the most recent Mad Men episode! Just one more full day here. I’ll finish my work and then hopefully go to the Royal Regalia museum to see all the awesome gifts given to the Sultan.

Love, Annie

Bandar Seri Begaw(an)ednesday

April 25, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, my first full day in Bandar Seri Begawan, was great and also exhausting. I woke up at 6:00 AM probably due to some kind of jet lag — this happened in Hong Kong too but I just didn’t get out of bed.

I decided to take advantage of the morning to explore the Morning Market (pictured above), about a ten minute walk from the hotel. On the way I passed this Temple and there was a little doggy guarding the entrance.

Pretty cute. I got some breakfast food – coconut rice and some other thing that tasted good but I didn’t love the texture. It had vegetables, some meat, and peanuts. I took the vegetables out and put them in the rice. Before ordering, the ladies at the table gave me a fried banana to try. Not a plantain… a real banana and it was awesome.

After breakfast I walked back to the hotel and even after ten minutes

in the early morning I was sweating a lot and fantasizing about the air conditioned room.

I worked in the morning and came across a store that basically had everything. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US – the variety of good quality electronics and accessories was pretty outstanding.

I had lunch at a Japanese restaurant called Kaizen Sushi and it was phenomenal. The restaurant is near the Kampong Ayer water village, shown in the picture above. I’m planning to explore it another day.

After Lunch, I walked back to the hotel by way of the famous Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque. I didn’t go in because I wasn’t completely covered but I did get to walk around outside.

Next, I went to this unbelievable hotel, the Empire Hotel and Country Club because I had some work to do there. It was a taxi ride away. It was just so Grand. On the way home it started to rain. It started at 4:30 and it was Heavy! Monsoon season is no joke. 

After the rain stopped (it went on for about an hour or so) I went for an evening walkto the “night market,” which just serves food.

It was pretty cool but smelled strongly. Not all bad strongly, but too strong for me to feel like eating at that point.

Now it’s only just after 9PM but I am so sleepy. Good night!

Love, Anne

Hi Brunei

April 24, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve finally arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, my first stop. I woke up this morning in Hong Kong to a pretty sweet view.

The window kind of tinted the whole thing green. This morning I slept as long as possible and then went down for breakfast. I had some coconut soup with chicken and a fruit thing in it that I had never tasted before. It looked like a fig but I’m not sure if that was it. Anyway if it was a fig it was a different kind of fig– smaller and greener — than I’m used to.

I took the airport shuttle back to the airport and checked in easily. I bought some alcohol to bring into Brunei (they don’t sell it here) some vodka and some wine. I just realised that I do not have a wine opener… eek.

The flight over was three hours and pretty pleasant. I took this picture so you can see how the flight attendants dress. The outfits are Sweet.

On the way to the hotel, the taxi driver took me on a little tour of the city. It’s pretty small but fancy looking and there is a “night market” and a “day market”. I’ll write more about the cool features of the city when I get to see them on foot. One thing he said that was pretty funny was that there are only 34 taxis in Bandar Seri Begawan. 15 go to the airport and the other 19 hang around town. Good thing I’m walking distance from most things!

The hotel room is totally fine and tonight I’m just going to relax and get ready for work tomorrow!

Hope you are well.



Hello Hong Kong!

April 23, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well! It’s the start of a new adventure and I’m very excited. I’ve just arrived in Hong Kong safely. I won’t be working here and will be staying only one night. Tomorrow, I’m off to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Here is a picture of the pool area at the hotel in Hong Kong. It’s sweet! I managed to get here with a free airport shuttle!

This quarter I’m assigned to Brunei and Malaysia, and won’t be back until June because there are a lot of cities on the agenda! In Brunei, I’ll be going to Bandar Seri Begawan and then Kuala Belait, and in Malaysia, Miri, Bintulu, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and lastly Lumut.

These locations are pretty close to one another, Four cities on Borneo’s northern coast and then three on the Peninsula. This means I’ll be able to taxi around instead of flying from city to city. This is absolutely Awesome because it’s much less stressful to car than to airplane.

Here’s my first Asian dinner. It’s Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and looks like some chicken and beef satays. This one was less spicy than the Nasi Goreng they serve at Meyers and Chang in Boston’s south end but that sauce is spicy peanut sauce.

Another cool thing about this trip is that I expect the food in Malaysia to be Awesome and healthy (and new!). Hopefully this is correct and I don’t get sick. I’ve yet to get sick on a survey knock on wood.

After  a long (over 15 hours) flight it was extremely nice to shower and drink wine. And of course, to be in a completely new region of the world.

Time to get some much needed sleep. See you from Brunei!